How-To: Hack Addressable Christmas Lights into a 7×7 Display

Arduino Home Technology
YouTube player

John Graham-Cumming created this sleek 7×7 LED display by hacking up a string of addressable Christmas lights from GE. Starting from Robert Quattlebaum’s excellent tutorial, he mounted an Arduino Pro and GE Color Effects G-35 Christmas lights inside a frame and diffused the light with a cutting board. I especially like how he used servo arms to secure the backing to the frame. He coded the Arduino so that custom messages and patterns can be displayed and in the video above he shows it displaying “Thanks GE” for making these hackable Christmas lights. [via Reddit]


4 thoughts on “How-To: Hack Addressable Christmas Lights into a 7×7 Display

  1. John Graham-Cumming says:

    Glad you like the project and the servo arms :-)  I was hunting around in my junk box for stuff to make this and the nylon nuts as spacers and servo arms were the best I could come up with.  If you look carefully you’ll notice that the servo arms are fixed on with Torx screws because I had some of those lying around as well.

    Moral: never throw anything away!

  2. Halfvast Conspirator says:

    I like the hack, wondered if something like this might be also/easier to use to something similar, or to extend the technique: 
    Digital Addressable RGB LED w/ PWM waterproof flexi strip 32 RGB LEDs per meter, and you can control each LED individually

    Looks like a fair amount of soldering would still be involved but it might be easier in some ways?

Comments are closed.


Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist and Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.

View more articles by Matt Richardson